media relations case study

PR Innovation Lifts Media Frequency, Reach by +200%

Professional services and research for education

A nonpartisan, nonprofit research, development, and service agency working with education and other communities throughout the United States and abroad, WestEd aims to improve education and other important outcomes for children, youth and adults.


WestEd’s senior leadership thought the agency was a “best-kept secret” and wanted to increase media exposure. This wasn’t just vanity. Distributing and promoting the knowledge the agency’s research generates is core to fulfilling their mission. At the same time, they were a government agency without a traditional marketing culture and virtually no marketing infrastructure or budget.


First, I researched the organization’s existing materials and culture and created a brand messaging architecture. This messaging gave alignment and depth to media materials. Next, I devised a media list segmentation strategy for building press release distribution lists quickly.

The brand architecture drove the message

These two steps allowed me to increase press release frequency from 1-2 a year to 10-12 a year. I used press releases as a type of email marketing campaign to journalists. I didn’t expect them to cover a particular release. Rather, I wanted to keep WestEd on the top of journalists’ minds when they sought expert input or commentary.


Over four years, the agency’s frequency of media coverage rose by 240 percent. The reach of that coverage expanded by 260 percent. Stories of WestEd appeared in national and trade press such as Bloomberg, Wall St. Journal, New York Times, Huffington Post, LA Times, NPR, Education Week, Ed Source, and Teacher Magazine.

Each quarter, I compiled these and other marketing metrics in a report to the agency Board of Directors.

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